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Thread: Analogue Sound Revisited - Denon DRM540 Tape Deck

  1. #1
    Join Date: Dec 2008

    Location: Kuala Lumpur

    Posts: 112
    I'm Abe.

    Default Analogue Sound Revisited - Denon DRM540 Tape Deck

    Hi Folks..

    Just sharing my experience with everyone.

    In my quest of returning to analogue sound (which is done mostly via TT), I recently repaired my trusty 90's cassette deck - the Denon DRM 540 just for the sake of having another analogue source.

    My..it baffles me that tapes could still sound this good. Despite the 'moulds' ,warts and what not of my 80's and 90's tapes collection.

    The dynamic range might be a wee bit lacking compared to modern CD + DAC.
    But it excels in musicality and exudes that much sought analogue warmth...I'd rather relax to Sade on the Denon deck than listening to MP3s on CD.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Feb 2008

    Location: http://www.homehifi.co.uk

    Posts: 6,318

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    Quote Originally Posted by aBe View Post
    I'd rather relax to Sade on the Denon deck than listening to MP3s on CD.
    AN easy conclusion to derive at and mistake to make, in the absence of something that can give you that analogue sound from a digital file. Time for you to check out my DAC.

  3. #3
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Bristol, UK

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    I'm Nick.

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    Something I've certainly been meaning to do for a while

    Cassette does have a certain something - recorded well on chrome or metal tape, without noise reduction it can sound more 'bouncy' than CD. Likely a result of subtle compression around the saturation point of the tape. Whatever the cause, it can sound great.



    I found that Dolby HX-PRO did a really good in enhancing the record capabilities of the later consumer decks, especially with Ferric tape, closing the gap between Type I and Type II tape.

    I have been consistently surprised at how good old recordings I have sound. It's surprising how upgrading your tape deck can reveal signal you never realised was there on earlier machines. I've copied tapes for friends who have been amazed at the sound that was always on their tape, but their equipment (even the machines that recorded it in the first place) couldn't reveal it

    It's also damn good fun playing with tape decks. Good ones can be picked up pretty cheap (cheap enough to have as a muck around source) - late 80's Nak's, The venerable Tascam 122, and providing they're electronically sound the problems that often cause people to get rid of them - dirty tape transports, broken belts - are easily fixed without a degree in audio DIY
    Nick
    My system...


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  4. #4
    Join Date: Dec 2008

    Location: Kuala Lumpur

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    I'm Abe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensimilia View Post
    AN easy conclusion to derive at and mistake to make, in the absence of something that can give you that analogue sound from a digital file. Time for you to check out my DAC.

    Stan,

    My name could have escaped you

    Right now, am listening to Candi Staton's Who's Hurting Now? album on MP3 via yours truly 7510 6/4 DAC. Smoky!
    I'm saving up for the new 7520.

    What I'm trying to point out is that, on its own - MP3s played on CD/DVD player (sans THE Dac) is at best..appaling. The old Denon would simply play better music.

    BTW with good recording, tapes could still somehow convey that inexplicable kind of 'it sounds right' - despite the hiss, noise, flutter and whatchamacallit.

    File this under Analogue Mystic...

    -aBe-
    Last edited by aBe; 25-02-2009 at 14:32.

  5. #5
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: North Down /Northern Ireland/ UK

    Posts: 19,495
    I'm Neil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensimilia View Post
    AN easy conclusion to derive at and mistake to make, in the absence of something that can give you that analogue sound from a digital file. Time for you to check out my DAC.

    I don't want to disagree or say pick a fight ( I would never do that) and your DAC is very good (haven't heard the new one yet) but even the very best digital is not analogue. It does not sound the same and to my ears I prefer (ultimately) the way analogue presents things (I do listen to digital and have a lot of CDs).

    I guess what I am trying to say is that the digital component that bests analogue ( Vinyl/reel to reel) IMHO/E ( in the areas where analogue is king) has either yet to be made or I have yet to hear it ( possibly more likely the later).

    THere is nothing like a great tape deck and a Nakamichi is one of the best ways to do it. However good Naks like Dragons,CR7E/CR5E or Z9 are still quite dear S/H at about 500 upwards. You could get lucky though. I agree with Nick Chrome or Metal tapes are best but if you have a good NAK then great results can be got with Ferric tape.

    Regards D S D L---Neil
    Last edited by Spectral Morn; 25-02-2009 at 17:22. Reason: carification
    Regards Neil

  6. #6
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: A Strangely Isolated Place in Suffolk with far away trains passing by...

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    I'm David.

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    Oh for goodness sake fella's...

    Having sold most of the decent cassette decks out there I can say that unless you have a top line Nak or Teac equivalent (the Teac 8000 series was superb around the mid nineties) you can't even talk about cassette being good (and I currently have a DRM 34HX *in the loft!!!!!!!*)

    Denon's wow, especially when they age and the head-block tension springs stretch a little. They have a response peak at 14KHz followed by a nosedive after 15KHz - and "you lot" complain that CD doesn't go over 22KHz or so. Gives crisp playback but dull recordings when played on other decks.. The tapes lose treble, especially low level stuff unless it's a metal formulation..........


    Seriously, GOOD digital is actually more musical than much analogue IMO and you have all that extra clarity there too. My CD player can give a "walk-in" soundstage on the right recording and if I want a more "organic" portrayal, I do it with the speakers - oh sorry, I recently did.................

    All I can say is, I've not used cassette at home since my son was a toddler eight to ten years ago and I haven't missed it one iota. I owned most of the big Naks at various times too, including a CR7, Dragon, 682ZX and both an original 700 and a later 700ZXE. Give me CDR any time
    Last edited by DSJR; 25-02-2009 at 17:05.
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  7. #7
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: North Down /Northern Ireland/ UK

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    I'm Neil.

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    I didn't say tape was perfect (reel to reel is better) but a good tape deck(I own a Nak CR5E ) does a lot of things that I like a lot. Digital does some things well but not all. My comment above was more in relation to Reel to reel or Vinyl and not poor tape recordings or poor tape decks.

    My Nakamichi CR5e



    I would say that the Akai GX head tape decks were very good too (not AIWA reliability and QC up the left a lot of the time)

    I too have retail experience selling tape decks during their hayday and years of use at home then and now. I have a collection of some of the best digital kit ever made and both of my TT's kick their collective butts. What you describe my cdp do in spades but the TT are just so much better in every area IMHO/E. Digital use for me was a no choice situation until recently go vinyl revival.....GO


    Regards D S D L---Neil
    Last edited by Spectral Morn; 25-02-2009 at 17:31.
    Regards Neil

  8. #8
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Bristol, UK

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    I'm Nick.

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    Lets not get into an argument about analogue vs digital, eh This is the 'Analogue Art' section afterall!
    Nick
    My system...


    Follow AOS on Twitter: @AoS_Forum

  9. #9
    niklasthedolphin Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by DSJR View Post
    Oh for goodness sake fella's...

    Having sold most of the decent cassette decks out there I can say that unless you have a top line Nak or Teac equivalent (the Teac 8000 series was superb around the mid nineties) you can't even talk about cassette being good (and I currently have a DRM 34HX *in the loft!!!!!!!*)

    Denon's wow, especially when they age and the head-block tension springs stretch a little. They have a response peak at 14KHz followed by a nosedive after 15KHz - and "you lot" complain that CD doesn't go over 22KHz or so. Gives crisp playback but dull recordings when played on other decks.. The tapes lose treble, especially low level stuff unless it's a metal formulation..........


    Seriously, GOOD digital is actually more musical than much analogue IMO and you have all that extra clarity there too. My CD player can give a "walk-in" soundstage on the right recording and if I want a more "organic" portrayal, I do it with the speakers - oh sorry, I recently did.................

    All I can say is, I've not used cassette at home since my son was a toddler eight to ten years ago and I haven't missed it one iota. I owned most of the big Naks at various times too, including a CR7, Dragon, 682ZX and both an original 700 and a later 700ZXE. Give me CDR any time

    If you have sold "most of the decent cassette decks out there", I wonder how you can mistake the best Teac, the Z-6000 (some lazy people would say Z-7000), with the much more consumer related V-8000.
    And how could you forget to mention "The Dragon Killer", TCD 3014A and the pro edition TCD 910.

    Sad to read that you didn't have the option to experience the superiority of analog media and sources compared to digital media and sources when best.

    I will not comment on your Denon machine and the specs you refer to.
    I can comment on that the best Cassette decks out there have better frequency response than CD Redbook format.

    We should not forget that specifications say very little about the sonics, however.
    There are so many parameters never defined and without units of measurements.
    What gives the final sonics is the combination of all parameters................including all those not defined or measured.

    I won't expect you to give the tapes another shot.

    "dolph"

  10. #10
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Bristol, UK

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    I'm Nick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by niklasthedolphin View Post
    We should not forget that specifications say very little about the sonics, however.
    There are so many parameters never defined and without units of measurements.
    What gives the final sonics is the combination of all parameters................including all those not defined or measured.
    Absolutely, Dolph! While the best decks do tend to measure better, it's the sound they make that is important, not the numbers. For me there's something about tape that just sounds excellent - I know I'm lucky in that I've got a pretty decent deck - but like I said earlier, with good tape, even some of the cheaper consumer decks can make a great sound too
    Nick
    My system...


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